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Fall Fund Drive

Possible ID: Xysticus punctatus (Thomisidae)?

I keyed out a male Xysticus punctatus that looks a lot like the spiders in this temporary group:

http://bugguide.net/node/view/313482/bgimage

Compare with this one:


Possible technique for dealing with such scenarios...
I think it is important (where possible) to only move those images which are relatively certain to be a certain species to the guide page itself, but that often leaves several images which are "likely candidates" lost in the mire of unidentified genus-level images. (This problem was marginally discussed in a recent forum topic here.) Hartmut Wisch and I have been discussing for some time now the possibility of utilizing the Remarks section on certain species guide pages to rectify this situation. The idea would be that those images for which we are still uncertain would remain in the genus sections (or on temporary "No Taxon" pages), but thumbnail links to those images could be included in the Remarks section for the species page to which they are thought to belong. This would illustrate a proposed deeper connection between images without committing to a hard-and-fast ID. Also, should opinions change or new light be brought to the situation, it would prevent images from being unduly moved in and out of various guide pages. Corrections could be made as simply as adding or removing thumbnails...

I'm very curious to hear what anyone thinks of this idea for this particular application and also for possible widespread use on the site!

 
Could get unwieldy
If we've only got one or two examples, it might not be so bad, but we could end up with pages dominated by thumbnails.

The main problem, though, is that basically we're talking about implementing a No Taxon page embedded in a guide page, but all the tasks taken care of automatically by the system will have to be done by hand.

When you move an image, you just tag it and move it. With this system, you tag it, move it, then edit the guide page to reflect what you've just done. If you're not an editor, you can't do the last step yourself- add another step. And there's nothing that automatically notifies an editor when an image is moved, unless one happens to be subscribed to the page- so move-related updating is bound to fall through the cracks.

The upshot of this is that keeping the thumbnail galleries in synch will be a constant chore and/or will be neglected. Whatever informational benefit there is will be undercut by accumulating misinformation.

 
I had considered all of these potential pitfalls...
...and in part, that is way I have not implemented this strategy anywhere on the site. I guess I was thinking that I would take on the task of upkeep myself where I had instituted such a system, but I suppose that's not very realistic if it was used broadly across the site. Anyhow... Thanks, Chuck and J & J, for giving me your feedback on this idea!

 
The problem comes in the definition of "relatively certain"
We are very comfortable moving images into the guide to guide pages where we are "relatively certain" we are correct. Does that mean someone won't come along with new information and change the images to new pages. Not at all. BugGuide makes it very easy to do so. Rather than have thousands of images all mixed together on a genus page because of "how certain are you of this ID?", let's move them where it is reasonable. For example, all the spiders on the Xysticus speciesa page should be moved to this page and speciesa page should be deleted. Do we "know" that they are all punctatus? No. But we're relatively certain, and if we're wrong, someone can always move them someplace else! WonGun changes his mind about Mirids all the time. Frans changes his mind about Collembola all the time. Does the world come to an end? When the demand becomes absolute certainty before moving to the guide, BugGuide comes to a stop. Not even the experts will guarantee absolute certainty and they will say so! We see more and more demands for what seems to us to be absolute certainty in some of the questions that come up in the comments, and we don't see the need for that. Relatively certain is good enough. Let's not say relatively certain but secretly mean absolute certainty.

 
Just to clarify...
I'm not entirely certain how I feel on the subject of ID certainty... I agree with many of the sentiments you expressed. However (as can be seen in some of the comments in the Phymata forum discussion I referenced earlier), I do think that there are those who perhaps wish for a bit more distinction between those images for which the ID is assured due to dissection or expert confirmation and those where it is only a "most probable" case scenario. I was only hoping to offer up a middle-of-the road compromise as a possible tool in our arsenal for grouping and cataloging images.

 
Another middle-of-the-road compromise
Just create a No Taxon page under the taxon page to do what you're suggesting for the guide-page thumbnail-gallery. Call it something like "Tentatively IDed as" or Unconfirmed as" or "Maybe" followed by the name of the taxon. That will keep the probables separated from the verifieds, and reduce the size of the image pool in the next level up.

Of course, that increases the number of places an expert would have to look for unidentified images- it's a trade-off one way or the other.

 
How about this?
"Looks like" or "maybe" specimens are often shown with a "cf." between the genus and species name to distinguish them from verified specimens.

As in, Xysticus cf. punctatus.

I recommend substituing that designation in place of the "Xysticus speciesa" label on the temporary guide page - that way, the specimens are shown to be relatively certain IDs, but no one will mistake them for verified IDs (and when or if any of them are later verified, they can be moved to the Xysticus punctatus species page). At least with a "cf." designation anyone looking at them will have a possible clue as to where to look further for more information on the spider (and maybe dig up a verification or two).

 
I like this idea!
My only concern would be that many beginners are unfamiliar with the usage and meaning of "cf". I would recommend that a generic explanation be given in the Remarks section of any guide pages created for this purpose. (There is a definition in the glossary here.) Otherwise, it seems like a very elegant solution.

 
It is an interesting idea, but there are currently some
16000 species pages on BugGuide. Do you (and we know you don't - it's just rhetorical) plan on now making 16000 companion "cf" pages and separating all the verified images on any page from the relatively certain ones? Most of the identifications on BugGuide are "relatively certain". We are the first to admit that ALL of our identifications should be considered as "relatively certain". We are not entomologists. We have no access to microscopes and dichotomous keys. NONE of our identifications should be considered as verified.

It makes more sense to us to put all the relatively certain and verified images on the same species page and find some way to identify the verified ones as "voucher" specimens in some way, as has been suggested at other places in the forums. We don't know exactly how that will be done, but it seems better than doubling the number of pages in the guide and then questioning every identification to find out if it is "verified" or merely "relatively certain".

 
Only this page
My suggestion pertained only to the particular page I mentioned in my original post. I just thought that as long as these particular Xysicus spiders were given their own special page, and since we now have an idea for what species they might be, Xysticus cf. punctatus made sense.

The other possibility would be, as John and Jane suggested, to just move them all into the regular Xysticus punctatus page.

Anyway, my original intent when starting this thread was just to mention that I thought I'd found a likely ID for the spiders in "Xysticus speciesa," in case anyone wanted to move or rename those images. :)

 
Ha! Opened a can-o-worms here, didn't you!
Just kidding. I just thought I'd add that verified images can be pointed out on info pages in the Identification or Remarks field. For example on Callobius pictus I put the one specimen that has been verified on the guide page.

 
Seconded
And if we have enough verified images for a species I'll consider placing the image numbers in the "Representative Images" field of the guide page, so that they will exclusively show up on the Info and Browse pages for that species.

 
Nice
I think that's a great idea!

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